Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas pudding ice cream (vegan)

This ice cream is packed with Christmas flavours - brandy, spices, cranberry and orange.


50g raisins
50g sultanas
100g dried cranberries
3 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

a cinnamon stick, snapped in half
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp caraway seeds
2 cloves
300ml full fat coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g light brown sugar
vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl
3 ginger nut biscuits, broken into small chunks
zest ½ lemon and ½ an orange


Heat the dried fruit, dark brown sugar and brandy until the sugar has dissolved, then leave to cool completely.

Heat the coconut milk, vanilla, spices and light brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved, cool and then churn in an ice cream maker or freeze it in a tupperware box, stirring every hour. Once the coconut mixture is "slushy", stir in the dried fruit, broken biscuits and zest. Oil the inside of a bowl, line it with clingfilm and pour in the ice cream mix. Allow to freeze completely.

Once the ice cream is ready to eat, leave it to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes then slide it out of the bowl and remove the cling film.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas rocky road (vegan)

Christmas Rocky Road (vegan)

350g dark dairy free chocolate
175g dairy free margarine
4 tablespoons golden syrup

Then mix in:
200g vegan ginger biscuits, crushed (I used the Co-op’s)
100g brazil nuts, broken into small pieces
100g glace cherries
100g dried cranberries
75g vegan mini marshmallows (I used Freedom Confectionery’s)

Spread into a 
brownie tin lined with baking parchment and chill for a couple of hours. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar

Friday, 18 December 2015

Speculoos cake (vegan)

I was asked recently to bake a birthday cake for a vegan who loves Speculoos biscuits. These spiced biscuits are traditionally baked around Christmas time in parts of Europe, so I thought now would be a good time to share the recipe.

For the sponge: 

250g dairy free margarine
340g light brown sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
525g self raising flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons Speculoos spices (to make 100g Speculoos spices, mix 8g groundwhite pepper, 8g powdered ginger, 16g ground cloves, 16g ground nutmeg, 48g ground cinnamon ad 4g ground cardamon - keep the rest in a jar for next time)
450ml soya or rice milk

For the filling: 

250g dairy free margarine
250g icing sugar, plus a little extra for dusting
1 jar of smooth Biscoff spread
about 12 Biscoff biscuits, broken into small pieces

Available in Sainsburys

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line and grease 3 x 8 inch tins

2. Cream the margarine and sugar until soft, then add the golden syrup and mix again

3. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder together and add to the mixture, beating slowly and gently

4. Add the milk, taking care not to overbeat.

5. Pour the mix into the tins and bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and the sponge springs back from a touch. Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool in the tins

6. Once the sponges are cool, beat the margarine and icing sugar together with a splash of water, then mix in the jar of smooth Biscoff spread. Try not to eat any of the frosting - it is so tasty that you might find there's not enough left for the cake
You might notice there are 4 sponges here but only 3 on the finished cake - heed the warning above
7. Pipe or spread nearly half the frosting onto the bottom sponge and sprinkle on half the crushed biscuits. Repeat this with the next layer of sponge, leaving a little of the frosting to decorate the top of the cake.

8. Place the top sponge on the cake, decorate with the rest of the frosting and dust it with icing sugar. Enjoy!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ice cream cone cupcakes

Never mind the weather, here is some indoor baking fun - making cupcakes inside ice cream cones.

Makes 21

For the cupcakes:

250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
5 medium eggs
250g self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
21 flat-bottomed ice cream cones

For the topping:

250g unsalted butter, softened
500g icing sugar
3-4 tbps water
2 tsp vanilla extract

To decorate:

7 flake chocolate bars, each cut into 3

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and put the ice cream cones into cupcake tins. You might need to make them little foil collars to stop them falling over during baking.

Make sure to buy the flat-bottomed cones – these Askeys cones are on sale in most supermarkets.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one. Fold in the flour gently.

Fill each ice cream cone about halfway up – you can either spoon in the mix with a teaspoon or put the mix in a piping bag and pipe it into the cones. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown, then allow to cool on a wire rack. The cupcake will have baked the length of the cone. The ice cream cone doesn't burn or leak or go greasy. For reasons I can't explain it just acts like a cupcake case.

Make the frosting by beating all the ingredients together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. You can either add a ball of frosting with an ice cream scoop, or pipe a Mr Whippy effect using a large closed star nozzle like this.

Finish off the cupcakes by pushing a third of a flake chocolate bar into the frosting and adding sprinkles if you’re that way inclined. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Vegan macarons

Earlier this month I stayed at WISE lured by the promise of a vegetarian breakfast and a weekend of laughs at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival.

I liked WISE immediately, hard not to when you’re travelling on a water-balanced cliff railway to scenery that was beautiful even in the lashing rain.

Thanks to my friend Laura for these photos. Here she is inspecting Megan the Mole in an educational display for small children that I found terrifying
You're advised to take a torch if you're staying overnight at WISE - here's me and Iolo in the pitch black
I was welcomed at WISE with a cup of tea and cakes when I did a double take at the pink macarons that looked normal but were labeled VEGAN. What was this egg-free witchcraft? The chef told me the secret ingredient is the water from tinned chickpeas – some dude in the US called Goose set the world of vegan baking aflutter recently after discovering that it whips up like egg white.

It was only when I got back to Newcastle and cracked open the chickpeas that I realised I hadn’t asked about the recipe. I cast about the internet and found a couple of US recipes for French-meringue uncooked sugar macarons here and here but neither worked for me. I suspect I didn’t beat the mix for long enough

For my third and final attempt (there’s only so much chickpea stew I can eat) I used my normal Italian-meringue cooked sugar macarons recipe, which worked much better. There were a few losses, as there usually are with macarons, and they are slightly more chewy than eggy macarons with bigger feet but they have a lovely gloss and taste delicious. In tribute to Machynlleth I’m calling them Macharons. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate vegan macarons

Italian meringue
40g reduced chickpea water (one 14oz tin)
100g caster sugar
37ml water

40g reduced chickpea water (one 14oz tin)
100g ground blanched almonds
90g icing sugar
10g cocoa powder

If you don’t want chocolate macarons, leave out the cocoa powder and use 100g icing sugar instead of 90g. If you’d like to colour them, mix a little food dye into the paste

Ganache filling:
160g dark chocolate
90g coconut milk

I added dessicated coconut and coconut extract to the ganache for extra flavour; the zest of an orange or some mint extract also works well


Drain the water from two tins of chickpeas. Don’t use chickpeas in brine unless you want them to taste salty, in which case seek help.

Simmer the chickpea water for 10 mins until it reduces to about half its volume, then allow to cool.
Admittedly it doesn't look very appetising
Mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder and ground almonds together with 40g chickpea reduction to form a thick paste.

Now make the Italian meringue mixture: weigh out another 40g chickpea reduction in a small clean metal or glass bowl and whisk it for a good 10 minutes until it is pale and fluffy and forms peaks.

Heat the 37ml water and 100g caster sugar in a non stick pan to 114 degrees C as quickly as possible without stirring. It helps enormously to have a sugar thermometer for this, but if you don’t have one, you’ll know your syrup is ready when a drop of it can form a soft ball in a glass of cold water.

As the syrup reaches 114 degrees C, start whisking the fluffy chickpea reduction again and pour in the syrup down the side of the bowl. Continue beating for 5 minutes while the meringue mixture cools.

Using a spatula, fold one third of the meringue mixture into the chocolate almond paste, then add in the rest. You need to break down the meringue a little so that you have a mixture that is quite wet but not runny.

Line two baking trays with parchment. Put a plain round 1 cm nozzle in a piping bag and pipe out small round mounds onto the parchment. You can use a template to help you pipe them all the same size, or dip a round cookie cutter in icing sugar and draw an outline on the parchment with it.

Tap the bottom of the trays lightly on the counter and leave the macarons to rest at room temperature for about half an hour. They will form a thin crust so that when you lightly run a finger over them, no mixture comes away. This helps to prevent the shells from cracking on the surface when they bake.

Heat the oven to 150 degrees C and bake the macarons for 14 minutes. As soon you take the cooked macarons out of the oven, slide the parchment on to a cold counter top to "shock" them and ensure they come cleanly off the parchment.

While they are cooling, make the ganache by heating the coconut milk and chocolate to near boiling point and mixing thoroughy. Add any flavourings now.

Once the macarons have cooled, you can fill them with the ganache. Remember not to overfill them so it doesn’t overpower the fragile shells. You can drizzle on melted dark chocolate and add decoration.